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Writing without training?

(17 Posts)
Fluffy24 Tue 26-Jan-16 20:57:13

Is it realistic to expect to have any hope of producing some decent writing without any 'training'?

Read everything I can get hold of. Would love to write but I'm my own worst critic and keep putting off actually writing anything - and I'm too embarrassed to even tell DH who'd think I was mad. As a teenager I turned out a number of quite good short stories and in my twenties I was shortlisted for a Fish Publishing competition (my one and only entry).

Trying to decide whether to give up and get on with my life, or make a serious effort to produce something.

Any thoughts?

CocktailQueen Tue 26-Jan-16 20:58:52

You don't need training! What I always tell authors is to read as much as they can - and as widely as they can. That's great preparation for writing.

Go for it. You have nothing to lose at all. You obviously have talent. Feel free to PM me if you'd like me to read anything you write smile I'd be happy to.

Fluffy24 Tue 26-Jan-16 21:11:53

That would be brilliant Cocktail, thank you smile

Do you think there is a correlation between ability to produce a short story and a novel? I'm wondering about trying some short stories with a view to entering competitions but not sure if they are a completely different animal to a novel. Is there something better I can do to prepare for writing a novel, e.g. aim to produce a chapter instead?

CocktailQueen Tue 26-Jan-16 21:16:12

They are very different beasts, but I think it's harder to write a short story than a novel, in many ways, because you have to pare everything down - plot, words, characterisation. Everything has to count.

That's something that a lot of authors, especially new ones, find hard.

What do you want to write? Do you have ideas for short stories or for a novel?

Fluffy24 Tue 26-Jan-16 21:27:30

I want to write a novel, I have so many ideas and love reading them. I find short stories easier to manage but suspect they may not help me to learn how to develop longer plots and more detailed characterisation etc.

I know I also need to tune up my grammar - since joining MN I worry about comma splices with every sentence!!grin

CocktailQueen Tue 26-Jan-16 21:50:51

Hmm, don't worry too much about comma splices (was that aimed at me?) - in some fiction they're fine. but I still don't like them

So decide on one idea for a novel then, and get writing!! smile

Fluffy24 Wed 27-Jan-16 06:50:12

Oh no! That wasn't directed at anyone specifically, nor with maliceblushsmile!

MissBattleaxe Wed 27-Jan-16 22:23:46

You don't need training. You need a decent grasp of English, but many, many writers are not trained. Any courses you can do ( lots are online) might be useful, if not just to improve your confidence.

My best advice echoes that above- read, read and read! And keep going with your writing. Go for that novel, just don't get overwhelmed. Take it in edible chunks.

HarrietVane99 Fri 29-Jan-16 10:17:16

The only way to learn how to write a novel (in my opinion) is to sit down and write one. Start, and push on to the end, whatever your inner critic is telling you.

SummerHouse Fri 29-Jan-16 10:18:51

Writing is training. Write away!

MissBattleaxe Fri 29-Jan-16 10:22:15

Yes- good advice above. Get cracking, read what you've written, then edit it. You will start to see what works and what doesn't.

Pedestriana Fri 29-Jan-16 10:34:16

Great thread! I'm untrained but am writing my first novel. I've about 20% down and I know what's happening. Unfortunately I have limited time in which to write, so it's a slow process.
I've already asked a few folks to read over some passages.
I also use Twitter to put the occasional line/lines out there to generate some feedback.

Happy to do some swapsies at a later point with anyone on proof-reading.

HarrietVane99 Fri 29-Jan-16 11:27:45

My personal opinion only, but I wouldn't spend too much time getting and thinking about feedback until you've finished the first draft. (Unless it's technical stuff such as how to punctuate dialogue.) You can spend so much time tinkering with what you've written, based on people's comments, you never make any progress.

MissBattleaxe Fri 29-Jan-16 12:11:27

My advice would be right the whole thing, leave it in a drawer for a week, then go back and make changes. Completing it is the most important thing, There must be millions of three chapter unfinished novels in the world. Just keep going.

I don't think you can train people to be excellent novelists. You can train them in the basic techniques (structure, dialogue, building suspense etc), but there's no guarantee they will write page turners.

Also if you send it to an agent and they like it, they will get you to edit it and then a publisher will get you to edit it too, so just do the best job you possibly can and find your own voice.

sayatidaknama Fri 29-Jan-16 12:23:01

I don't think you can train to be a writer / novelist. You either have it or you don't. I do agree that reading widely will expose you to lots of different genres, style of writing and ideas but I don't think even that is essential. The best thing to do is just go for it and don't stop until you've finished (I should take my own advice).

joyfulworld Thu 25-Feb-16 14:18:40

Don't give it up. Pursue it especially if writing makes you happy. You'll never know. Good luck! smile

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Thu 25-Feb-16 17:39:24

I totally disagree with 'you either have it or you don't'. I mean, yes, some people won't ever write well no matter how hard they try, but most of us can improve our writing by making the effort to consciously learn more about it. It doesn't mean you need professional training - there are much cheaper ways to do it and all of them involve actually doing it rather than passively absorbing instruction - but getting hung up on talent is a very dangerous thing for the aspiring writer to do imo.

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